Knitting for someone allergic to wool but who wants something warm but using only natural fibers can be difficult. I was asked to design a pair of fingerless mittens for someone who is both allergic to wool (claimed he itched madly and developed rashes) and averse to anything but natural fibers. I first determined whether he was truly allergic to wool and, if so, to all wools. So I gave him many samples from yarns made from varying kinds and amounts of protein fibers. Yes, he was truly allergic. He reacted to alpaca, angora (I was sure that would work), llama (less so), and mohair (no surprise). He reacted to even relatively small amounts of smooth Merino wool blended with cotton. The fiber that ultimately worked quite well was a cotton (85%)/silk (15%) blend by Cascade Yarns called “Pima Silk.” While of course cotton is not nearly as warm as wool, he was quite happy with the results.
I have always felt badly for people who are (1) truly allergic to wool, (2) need warm clothing, and (3) will not wear synthetics. As a young child in Norway, I remember wearing long underwear sets that my grandmother knit – out of wool, of course – and feeling quite comfy and warm!